Women's basketball roundup

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: McBride leads No. 2 Irish to win over No. 14 UNC

2014-02-27T20:30:00Z 2014-02-28T02:22:04Z WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: McBride leads No. 2 Irish to win over No. 14 UNCThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 27, 2014 8:30 pm  • 

Notre Dame seniors Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa gave the younger North Carolina squad a lesson on how dangerous the Princeton offense can be.

The second-ranked Fighting Irish continually beat the Tar Heels with back-door plays, shooting 61 percent in the first half and 51 percent for the game en route to a 100-75 victory Thursday night to finish the regular season unbeaten at home.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the Irish thought the backdoor would be successful against the Tar Heels because they tend to overplay the ball.

"I thought we could have got a couple of more, but I thought we did a pretty good job," she said. "I thought we kept up our tempo."

McBride finished with 28 points, just three shy of the career-high she set against Duke on Sunday, and Achonwa added 24 points and eight rebounds.

"They were just really in sync," McGraw said. "They had a good rhythm going."

North Carolina associate head coach Andrew Calder said Notre Dame's speed gave the Tar Heels trouble.

"They're so good at cutting with speed, a lot like UConn," he said. "They'll cut with speed and just slip and go. They do a great job reading that. They just do an outstanding job of taking advantage of your mistakes defensively."

Just like against Duke on Sunday, when Notre Dame opened with a 20-2 run, the Irish took control from the start. The Irish (28-0, 15-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) forced four turnovers in two minutes to quickly take a 10-2 lead. Achonwa later scored nine points during an 11-0 run that gave Notre Dame a 31-15 lead. The Irish extended the lead to 22 when Michaela Mabrey hit a 3 late and led 55-38 at intermission.

The Tar Heels (21-8, 9-6) rallied in the second half with a 10-4 run, highlighted by a three-point play by Xylina McDaniel, to cut the lead to 61-51.

McBride hit a jumper to spark a 6-0 spurt as the Irish regained control and eventually led by 28.

"They just come off their screens so fast. That's just hard to guard," said McDaniel, who led UNC with 18 points.

Notre Dame had a 46-36 advantage in the paints and scored 28 points from the foul line while North Carolina had just 14.

McBride said the Irish, who already clinched the league title their first season in the ACC, have been more relaxed the past two games.

"We're just coming out and we're getting stops on defense and not letting transition baskets and we're hitting shots early. It was a lot of fun being out there with them today," McBride said.

The power went out on campus minutes after the game ended, just as Calder was about to address the media.

"We shot the lights out, literally," McGraw later joked.

Notre Dame shot 52 percent against the Tar Heels, which had been holding opponents to 35-percent shooting. Notre Dame improved to 8-0 against ranked opponents, winning seven of those by double figures.

Diamond DeShields had 17.

The game pitted two of Indiana's top high school players from last season, with North Carolina's Stephanie Mavunga of Brownsburg edging Notre Dame's Taya Reimer of Hamilton Southeastern by five votes to win the IndyStar's Miss Basketball Award. Neither were big factors on Thursday. Mavunga finished with eight points and four rebounds, while Reimer had six points and five rebounds.

The game was McGraw's 1,000th as a head coach, improving her overall record to 742-258 and her record with the Irish to 654-217.

"That's a lot of games," McGraw said. "It would be really nice if we won 1,000. So talk to me then."

No. 4 South Carolina 67, Georgia 56: Tiffany Mitchell scored a career-high 25 points, and South Carolina wrapped up its first Southeastern Conference title with a victory over Georgia.

Alaina Coates added 18 points as the Gamecocks (26-2, 14-1 SEC) won their 10th straight and finished 16-0 at home. South Carolina's other 6-foot-4 forward, Elem Ibiam, had a team-high nine rebounds and five of the team's 11 blocks.

Erika Ford had 16 points to lead the Bulldogs (18-10, 6-9), who'll finish with a losing SEC season for just the fourth time in league history.

The crowd of 12,458 chanted "S-E-C Champs" as time ran down, celebrating a feat few thought coach Dawn Staley could accomplish pull off when she arrived six years ago.

No. 7 Duke 71, Wake Forest 56: Haley Peters scored a season-high 22 points, and Duke pulled away for its 40th straight win over Wake Forest.

Richa Jackson added 15 points and Tricia Liston scored 10 with a critical 3-pointer late in her final regular-season game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Playing their first full game without injured point guard Alexis Jones, the Blue Devils (25-4, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) locked up the No. 2 seed for next week's conference tournament and avoided their first losing streak since 2007-08.

ACC scoring leader Dearica Hamby scored 20 points for the Demon Deacons (14-14, 5-10).

No. 9 Maryland 92, Boston College 66: Alyssa Thomas scored 26 points to move into second place on Maryland's all-time women's scoring list, carrying the Terrapins to a victory over Boston College.

Lexie Brown added 12 points, all coming on 3-pointers, and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 11 for Maryland (23-5, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Kristen Doherty led Boston College (12-17, 3-12) with 15 points in her final home game.

NC State 79, Pittsburgh 68: Markeisha Gatling scored 20 points, and Len'Nique Brown added 19 points, including six straight free throws in the final 90 seconds of the game, as North Carolina State beat Pittsburgh (11-18, 3-12) for the 800th victory in the program's history.

In earning their first win at Pitt in the first meeting between the teams as Atlantic Coast Conference rivals, the Wolfpack (24-5, 11-4) picked up their 24th win of the season — the 12th time in program history they've reached that milestone, and their 11th ACC victory — a milestone they now have reached 10 times.

No. 25 Iowa 65, Ohio St 61: Theairra Taylor scored 21 points, and Iowa pulled away in the second half to beat Ohio State (15-16, 5-10 Big Ten).

Melissa Dixon scored 14, Bethany Doolittle 12, and Iowa (22-7, 10-5) forced 21 turnovers and had 15 steals.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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